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Much of Anthony Wilson’s reputation, remarkable for one still in his early 30s, rests on his writing abilities. A triplethreat composer with a unique ear for melody, harmony and rhythm, Wilson’s charts for his celebrated nine-piece ensemble are strongly grounded in the jazz tradition even as they maintain a thoroughly modern, forward-looking perspective.
His skills have won him a slew of honors: the Thelonious Monk International Composers’ Competition in 1995, a Grammy nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance in 1997, The Gil Evans Fellowship in composition from the International Association of Jazz Educators in 1999, top-ranking (tied with Dave Douglas) in the composers deserving wider recognition category in Downbeat magazine’s 2000 International Critics’ Poll.
But composition is only half the Wilson story. Anyone who has seen him perform, whether with his incisive nonet, as a member of the orchestra led by his father, distinguished bandleader Gerald Wilson, or in various gigs with saxophonists Bennie Wallace and Ernie Watts, trumpeter Marcus Printup, singer Madeleine Peyroux and others, know that he’s also a smart, sensitive guitarist, one who brings the same ear for tradition, melody and harmony to his instrument that he brings to his writing.